So, where are we supposed to turn to make money the legitimate way online? This isn't just about generating passive income; this is also about finding ways and means to create an active income through the conveniences afforded to us by the internet that will not only help us with our debt obligations, but also empower us to save, invest and get really rich in the future.
I may as well start with something I know well. When I started out as a freelance writer 20 years ago, things were very different. I wrote mostly for magazines, and I had to rely on snail mail to send out drafts and queries. I’d wait weeks for a response from my editors. Not many people had the patience for it, and few stuck around long enough to ever start earning a real income from it.
These endeavors aren’t without traps and challenges, though, so before we take a look at some legitimate ways to make money from your home, let’s review a few things that you should avoid. Unfortunately, if you want to earn an honest living from home, you’re also a common target of scammers, especially in these economically tough times. But if you keep these simple rules in mind, you won’t become a victim of one of the many work from home scams.
While it often takes a significant amount of time and hard work to build up your affiliate income, if you have the ability to regularly publish high quality content that drives in targeted traffic to your website, this online revenue source can become quite substantial. Follow along with my experiment growing two completely new blogs—one finance blog MoneyTalk and one called SmartWP about WordPress, into additional revenue streams for my business.
I have yet to find a survey site worth the time. They ask you tons of information about yourself then send you surveys where you have to answer the exact same questions over and over again. Then, after spending 10 to 20 minutes answering questions, you are told you don’t qualify. I want a survey site that takes the information I have already provided and only sends me surveys I am qualified for. Most times I feel they have gotten the answer they wanted and then say I don’t qualify just so they don’t have to pay!!!
Research. You need to know what others are selling before you decide what wares you will offer. Lots of people sell handmade items, but those who work hard to make their items unique in some way are the ones who truly stand out. After you’ve decided on a product, check out the other sellers on Etsy and find what they’re offering, and then figure out how you can do it differently.
Provide excellent customer service. Answer any questions buyers post as quickly as possible. Be professional and courteous. Positive communication builds your reputation with buyers and gets you return business. Also, package your product well and ship it out quickly. Allowing an item to become damaged or taking too long to ship can negatively affect your reputation among buyers. Wrap all items, especially fragile ones, in appropriate packaging. Commit to shipping items as soon as you receive payment.
Choose your niche and check for demand: The golden course combination is when you can find an in-demand niche that aligns with your skills and unique experiences. A great way to do this is to use Google Trends, Google’s Keyword Planner and other key blogging tools to do keyword research and look for average monthly search volume for keywords related to your proposed course content. Are people actively looking for high-quality information about this subject? Of course, if you’re already creating content for a blog, coaching service, or a site like Medium, you can test demand this way for free just like Bryan did.
If you’re willing to take on some risk and have the heart of a true hustler, you can make extra money online doing commission-only sales for startups and other businesses. While you won’t be getting a regular salary, with the right sales strategies and skills as an inside sales rep, you can make decent money for each sale you bring in. And because you’ll most likely be working with startups, if you can negotiate a little equity you could profit big time if you're pitching a solid product and the startup succeeds.
Ratings. Whenever someone buys a book from you, they will have the opportunity to give the transaction a rating. This is when they’ll tell other potential buyers whether the book was in the condition that you described, whether it was mailed on time, and if your communications were pleasant and helpful. One bad rating can hamper sales, and a couple of them can downright stop them. Excel at customer service and your ratings will help your company grow.
Storage. Depending on how big your business gets, you’ll need ample room to store the books. You can’t get lazy or disorganized about it, either. You have to keep the books in good condition, and you need to be able to find them when someone wants them. For instance, if you list a book in “like new” condition, and then the pages get smashed during storage, you’ll be in a bind if someone places an order before you realize what happened.
Webinars are quite possibly one of the most potent ways you can make an exorbitant amount of money online. You'll need an audience to train and you'll need to know what you're talking about. Of course, this usually requires having a website and some semblance of an online presence. However, people can still do webinars without all of that. For example, you might have a sizable social media following and you train them every week on something to do with social media. But you will need a product to embed and sell at some point. Don't worry about it in the beginning. In my experience, the best webinar platform out there is GoToWebinar.
Shipping. You will only have a few days to ship a book after it sells, and even less time if you agree to include two-day or overnight shipping as part of your options. And since you’ll want to save as much as you can on the shipping, you’ll have to devise a plan. Many people set aside specific days for shipping – say 3 days a week – and then make one big trip to the post office. As long as there isn’t anything else in the package, you can send books via media mail, which is the least expensive option. Finally, your books will need to be packaged in a way that they won’t get damaged in transit.
Billshark: This service specializes in negotiating common monthly bills. While they don’t claim to be perfect, Billshark says that they have an 85% success rate negotiating bills for cable and satellite TV, cell phones, internet, satellite radio, and home security. Pricing is simple: whatever they are able to save you via negotiation, they take a 40% cut. If they can’t lower your bills, you don’t pay them.
Nice writing style Ben. I’m finding out very quickly that to make any money writing, you have to read, read, and then read some more, no matter how smart you feel you are on a subject, before writing your first sentence. I have always been a fan of multiple income streams and am thrilled by the ideas of proofreading, editing, blogging, freelancing and transcribing. Having spent one of my careers doing just that for a large corporation, it’s a perfect fit, but now I can get credit for my work, thanks again for a great article.
As someone who's been immersed in a number of online industries for quite some time, I know a thing or two about what it takes to succeed in this arena. However, just like you, I started at ground zero with little knowledge, but a great deal of passion. What I learned along the way were some invaluable lessons from failure that hurt at the time, but helped immensely in the grand scheme of things.
Getaround is the sharing economy's answer to rental agencies. The company allows you to rent out your car on an hourly or daily basis, starting at $5 an hour. Depending on your vehicle's market value, you set the price per hour, and Getaround takes a 40% cut to cover 24/7 roadside assistance and driver insurance. According to the Getaround, earning potential for renting your car when you're not using it is up to $1,000 a year.
Electronics, DVDs, CDs, Video Games: Decluttr buys your old CDs, DVDs, games, books, LEGO®, and technology. Select your technology or scan the barcode on your media items for an instant valuation. Once you accept an offer, Decluttr will send you a free shipping label. All you have to do is pack a box and drop it at your nearest UPS location or schedule a pick-up. Read our Decluttr review here.
If you’re new to blogging, and want to learn how to make money at home but aren’t quite sure where to start, consider starting a WordPress blog (like DollarSprout) with HostGator. It’s a low cost way to start your own online business (less than $5 per month) and HostGator offers a 45-day money back guarantee if you decide blogging just isn’t a good fit for you.
Find a profitable niche. Starting with your interests, write down as many niche ideas as you can. Think about topics people might search online. Ideas include passions (like surfing or body building), fears (like spiders or speaking in front of crowds) and problems (like getting out of debt). Do keyword research to see it others are interested in the topic. Find out if a domain name is available that matches the keyword 100 percent. 
Note: There are dozens of other survey sites out there. These just happen to be the more well-known ones that have a reputation for paying out in a timely manner and having reasonable standards for cashing out. As always, be careful with your personal information. We recommend using an entirely separate email address for survey sites so they don’t clutter your inbox.
Selection. One of the keys to success on Etsy is selection, according to industry insiders. In fact, the goal of most serious shop owners is to have at least 200 items for sale. If you’re creating all of those items yourself, that’s a pretty big time commitment. But the more options you give to your customers, the higher the chances that you’ll make a sale.